By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer
A Portales woman who said God told her to flush the devil from her 6-year-old son was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty in the boy’s death, according to the district attorney’s office.
Teresa Gilman, 26, was arrested in January 2007 after an ambulance was called to her home because her son was unresponsive. The boy, Lorenzo Cabral Jr., was later pronounced dead. According to an arrest affidavit, witnesses said Gilman poured water into the boy’s mouth after he was found unconscious.
Gilman was charged with first-degree murder or the alternative charge of child abuse resulting in death.
An autopsy showed the preliminary cause of the boy’s death was head trauma, but drowning could not be ruled out.
Gilman underwent competency treatments at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, N.M., in September 2007. District Attorney Matt Chandler said Gilman was found competent to stand trial early this year.
Chandler said Gilman did not speak during the sentencing.
“Thirty years in prison is the maximum time the defendant could receive, but it’s cases of this nature that make the death penalty a reasonable argument,” Chandler said.
Gilman’s family members or her lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Gilman will be required to serve at least 85 percent of her sentence before she is eligible for release.
Police received a 911 call on Jan. 4 2007, from Gilman’s mother, Ramona Risinger, in which she stated the boy was not breathing and was unresponsive, court records show.
Once at the residence, emergency responders found the boy in a bedroom with Gilman at his feet crying and three other children sitting on a bunk bed in the room crying.
According to Risinger’s statement, she stopped at the house that morning and heard Gilman screaming. She discovered Lorenzo’s limp body in the bedroom. She saw Gilman pouring water in the boy’s mouth from a milk jug and told her to stop.
Risinger told police Gilman had told her the devil was in Lorenzo and that she had been up with him all night. Risinger said her daughter told her the devil was talking to her through Lorenzo and God who told her to give Lorenzo water to flush out the devil.
In an interview with police detectives, Gilman’s then 8-year-old daughter described how her mother poured water into Lorenzo’s mouth and then described that she pinched his nose and forced air into his mouth, much like rescue breathing. She described Lorenzo as making “devil or growling” noises.
The sister’s statement also described other ritual type processes that the mother went through, including pouring salt in a circle around Lorenzo while continuing to pour water in his mouth.
Gilman was also charged with four additional counts of child abuse because of the three other children that were in the home and were forced to witness the abuse that caused the death. The home was also found to be littered with trash, spoiled food and had no working bathrooms or heat, the release said.